In addition to raising money and awareness for the event we also had a really awesome weekend celebrating Harper and "Preemie Power!" The week before I was blown away by an email from my Aunt Mary-Jo who wrote to say that the stars had aligned and that she'd be joining us all the way from Connecticut for the march! What!? I was thrilled beyond belief to get to see her and to finally introduce her to Harper. We also had my cousin Meghan and her family join us from Baltimore so we turned the visit into a mini-family reunion sleep over at our house the night before the march. It was such a fun evening and a great chance for the second generation of cousins (Adam, Olivia, Walter & Harper) to play. I wish we'd snapped more photos but who could get that group of kiddos to slow down and pose? Not me!
The day of the march the weather was sunny and beautiful - perhaps a bit chilly - but the sun shining was all we wanted after last year's rain-out (see here.) We had such a great crew with us sporting their Team Harper Gribbs shirts. Grandma, Grandpa, Poppy, Great Aunt Mary-Jo, Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathleen, Olivia, Rob, Meghan, Walter, Mary Beth, Lilly, Cora, even Liddy & Sadie! We also saw some nurses, Harper's therapist from Fair Oaks, and some of the friends we've made through our volunteer work with the MOD.
Before the march kicked off they had a Super Hero Sprint that NICU grads and their siblings could participate in. I don't think I'll ever forget this moment for as long as I live. Seeing Adam and Harper in their capes walking hand in hand to the starting line and then racing toward us with all the other Super Heroes. It was quite a sight to see and while I'm proud of Harper for "running" the race I'm even prouder of Adam for sticking with him, cheering him on, and being the BEST big brother there ever was. Tears return as I type this. What a moment.
The march itself was a lot of fun. The weather really was perfect and the 2 mile walk was the a wonderful opportunity to spend time chit chatting with our out of town visitors. As you walk you see all the mission signs and stories of Harper's fellow NICU grads - including a sign of his own. You also see the memory signs for the babies who unfortunately would never make it home. Those are tough to see but important and we all spent time reflecting during the walk on those sweet babies and their families. It's a powerful 2 miles to say the least.
Harper rode in his stroller for the majority of the walk but we let him out so he could march across the finish line on his own two feet - another moment I'll never forget.
After that it was time to celebrate and dance of course! Watching Harper dance with his Great Aunt Mary-Jo was really something! She lights up any dance floor - and turns anything into a dance floor for that matter - and you could see Harper lighting up right along side her.
We are so thankful for this day where we get to celebrate Harper and the journey he has been on. It's also a great opportunity to show our support for the March of Dimes and to be surrounded by other families who have walked in our shoes - it's a unique club we are in.
Go Team Harper Gribbs & here's to all those babies born too soon and to their families as well!